A well-cooked Italian meal is a treat for the taste buds. Just one bite of a carefully prepared pasta dish has the ability to conjure up the sights, the smells and the very essence of Italy.
Every year millions of people flock to discover the delights of Italy, tasting their way around the tourist attractions and rarely leaving disappointed. There is nothing quite like settling down in a traditional trattoria to a plate of mixed antipasti before moving on to a fragrant spaghetti alla vongole followed by osso bucco and peaking with a heart-stopping tiramisu before floating back down to earth over a creamy cappuccino and a generous limoncello.
But how can you recreate that magic once you return home to your everyday life? The answer is to learn the secrets of Italian cooking from the masters right there on the ground.
Combining a hotel holiday with the opportunity to hone your culinary skills is not a new idea, but it has boomed in popularity in recent years. Now people flock to hotels all over the UK and beyond to learn new skills before coming home and putting them into practice on their (mostly) lucky friends and family. Italy joined the ranks some time back and there a plenty of cookery schools offering courses for beginners right through to professionals looking to hone their skills and gather new ideas to try out on their restaurant menus. But with so many to choose from, how do you decide which is the right one for you?
There are two sides to this secret: chose the most picturesque hotel you can find, as the beauty of your surroundings cannot fail to rub off on the taste of your culinary efforts; and choose one that is located in the heart of an area that is known for the quality of its local ingredients. Monsignor della Casa Country Resort is the perfect example. Located in the heart of Tuscany close to the romantic city of Florence, this traditional country hotel is built in traditional Tuscan style and oozes charm from every corner.
This is a real home from home, tucked away in the lush countryside in the heart of one of the country’s most famous olive-growing regions. The local produce is exquisite and the hotel organises regular tastings in conjunction with the local farmers to teach their guests about the olive oil industry and introduce them to some of the most tasty examples.
The real icing on the cake, however, is the chance to take part in Monsignor della Casa Country Resort’s Italian cooking classes. This is the stuff that dreams are made of – cutting swathes of fresh pasta into paper-thin linguini and discovering the secrets of the simple flavours that make Italian cooking the masterpiece that it is. Once you have completed your dish you can enjoy it in the splendour of the hotel’s rustic dining room, accompanied by a delicious light Italian red and the gentle murmur of a room full of happy guests.
Stock up on your favourite prosciutto, olives, oil and cheese at farm prices before you head home and you will have everything you need to recreate the magic of Italy in your very own kitchen.